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This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

How mobile money supercharged Kenya’s sports betting addiction

Mobile money has mostly been hugely beneficial for Kenyans. But it has also turbo-charged the country’s sports betting sector.

Since the middle of the last decade, experts and public figures across the African continent have been sounding the alarm over the rising popularity of sports betting. The practice has produced tales of riches, but it has also broken families, consumed college tuitions, and even driven some to suicide.

Nowhere, though, is the craze as acute as it is in Kenya, the country often dubbed Africa’s “Silicon Savannah” for its status as a regional tech powerhouse. But while Kenya’s mobile money revolution has played a well-documented role in encouraging savings and democratizing access to finance, today, it’s easier than ever for those in fragile economic circumstances to squander everything. Read the full story.

—Jonathan W. Rosen

deep-learning algorithm could detect earthquakes by filtering out city noise

Cities are loud places. Traffic, trains, and machinery generate a lot of noise. While it’s a mere inconvenience much of the time, it can become a deadly problem when it comes to detecting earthquakes. That’s because it’s difficult to discern an approaching earthquake amid all the usual vibrations in bustling cities.

Researchers from Stanford have found a way to get a clearer signal. They’ve created an algorithm trained on tens of thousands of samples of seismic noise in cities. They claim it could improve the detection capacity of earthquake monitoring networks in cities. Places like South America, Mexico, the Mediterranean, Indonesia, and Japan could especially stand to benefit. Read the full story.

—Rhiannon Williams

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 TikTok has created a pro-war echo chamber in Russia
While anti-war hashtags and content has disappeared. (WSJ $)
Ukraine’s intelligence services are doxxing Russian soldiers. (Wired $)
Russians are hiding bombs and landmines across Ukraine. (NYT $)
The state of Russia’s trucks suggests its troops are struggling. (CNN) 

2 Millions are grieving loved ones lost to covid
And their mourning is made even tougher by the public’s desire to “return to normal.” (The Atlantic $)
Two omicron subvariants are sweeping across New York state. (NYT $)
Pfizer’s booster shot is effective in children aged between 5 and 11. (NYT $)
Robot dogs are patrolling Shanghai to ensure residents stick to its lockdown. (FT $)

3 Plastic batteries are cheaper and longer-lasting than lithium-ion
So it makes sense they could store renewable energy on the grid. (TR)

4 Elon Musk has offered to buy 100% of Twitter
He says if his offer is refused, he’s going to reconsider his position as a shareholder. (FT $)
It’s been a rollercoaster week for both Musk and the platform. (The Verge)
But he’s still being sued over claims he was too slow to disclose his shares in Twitter. (Sky News $)

5 How the joke conspiracy theory Birds Aren’t Real took flight

Actual conspiracy theorists seem to really struggle to spot satire. (The Guardian)
A Capitol Hill rioter has blamed Trump for ordering him to storm Congress. (NYT $)

6 Mark Zuckerberg wants you to see the metaverse through his AR glasses
He thinks they’ll go on sale in 2024, but even that sounds wildly optimistic. (The Verge) 

7  A travel influencer wrongly claimed to be the first woman to visit every country
She was, however, the first to boast about it on social media. (WP $)

8 Endangered animals are still being trafficked through Facebook
That’s despite Meta’s promise to crack down on the practice years ago. (The Guardian)

9 At what age should we talk to kids about crypto?
What a question. What a time to be alive. (Vox)
The guy who bought an NFT of Jack Dorsey’s first tweet for $2.9 million is struggling to sell it for anything other than a giant loss. (Coindesk)
Wikipedia has voted against receiving cryptocurrency donations. (Ars Technica)
Soccer clubs and crypto are not a good mix. (FT $)

10 Vending machines may exist until the end of time
They’re mostly unloved, yet relied upon by millions of us every day around the world. (The Guardian)
No, please, not an NFT vending machine. (Axios)

Quote of the day

“I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t come. I had to. I couldn’t sleep.”

—An American man tells The Guardian about his decision to travel to Ukraine to fight the

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By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download April 14 2022: Kenya’s mobile gambling problem and earthquake algorithms
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Published Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2022 12:24:49 +0000

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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys



Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.

This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.

The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.

The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.

“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México

Jersey NFTs

Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.

The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
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Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000

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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth



EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.

Some new developments underway at EXMO:

Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.

EXMO’s new logo

The rationale for the re-brand:

“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding

The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
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Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000

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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens



The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country. 

The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already. 

Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). 

It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.

The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines. 

If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.  

The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.

The case of Texas

The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.

One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more. 

These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.

Map USA grid
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.

ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.

The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created  demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts.  Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.

Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures

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By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
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Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000

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